PBT’s Wednesday Night Winners/Losers: Philly is winless no more

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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while stealing an ambulance so you could go to a strip club

source:  Philadelphia 76ers. It wasn’t pretty. Nobody with the Sixers cares. This is a team that was on the verge of tying the NBA all-time consecutive losses to start a season record but they got a repreive and picked up a win, 85-77, knocking off a depleted Minnesota team. The Sixers did it despite shooting just 39 percent because Minnesota’s offense was worse, shooting just 35.7 percent (and Minny was 3-of-17 from three). The Sixers scored just nine points in the entire second quarter. The Sixers started 1-of-20 from three (but hit four in a row late). None of that was because of great defense, either. This entire game lived down to expectations. Yet Michael Carter-Williams stepped up with a near triple-double (20 points , 9 rebounds, 9 assists, who cares if it took him 20 shots to get there) and off the bench Robert Covington had 17 points (including three fourth quarter threes). It’s a win. Philadelphia will take it.

source:  Referees in Sixers/Timberwolves. Are you kidding me? They had to replay the first 16 seconds of the Sixers/Timberwolves game because the two teams were shooting at the wrong baskets. Which pretty much summed up this entire game. But while it’s easy to laugh and say “it figures, it’s the Sixers/Wolves” this isn’t on the teams, it’s on the referees for not noticing and fixing it before. They are the cops out there and they were caught thinking about donuts, not doing their job.

source:  Kyle Lowry. The Raptors’ star point guard looked up, saw two Utah rookies had the assignment to cover him, and started to drool. With no DeMar DeRozan for another month or so Toronto needs more nights like this, where Lowry looks to get himself going first. He finished with 39 points (a career high) on 13-of-22 shooting. He got whatever shot he wanted and hit most of them.

source:  Houston Rockets. No Dwight Howard. Or Patrick Beverley. Or Terrence Jones. Or Isaiah Canaan. Yet the Houston Rockets handed the Grizzlies just their third defeat of the season. They did it by getting out and running on Memphis, a team that wants to slow it down and make every game the pace of a playoff game. This game was played at 99 possessions, which is up in Denver Nuggets territory and faster than either team likes to play. The Rockets had 25 fast break points on the night and their pressure wouldn’t let the Grizzlies’ defense get set, and at that pace Memphis had 20 turnovers. Also a good night from Donatas Motiejunas with 15 points and 7 boards, but more importantly really strong defense in the paint as he and the Rockets held Marc Gasol in check (8 points). Houston had 23 offensive rebounds on the night, also.

source:  Monta Ellis. It’s not exactly what you’d call an efficient night for Ellis, who had 23 points but needed 26 shots to get there. Didn’t matter, he got away with it. Just like he got away with a travel on the last shot — no call then he got the difficult shot to fall. Dallas wins.

LeBron James finishes Rajon Rondo alley-oop to close out half (VIDEO)

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
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One of the reasons LeBron James leads the league in assists — other than the fact he can do anything on the basketball court he wants — is that he was the Lakers’ only quality playmaker to start the season. He had to set guys up.

Until Rajon Rondo returned recently from injury.

Now Rondo is setting up everyone — including LeBron for this monster alley-oop just before the half Tuesday night.

LeBron can still finish with the best of them.

Just don’t ask him about doing the dunk contest.

 

New Orleans spoils Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut in 115-104 Pelicans win

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Brandon Ingram added 21 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut with a 115-104 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.

Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a 3-pointer from 26 feet out. However, he wound up missing 10 of 14 shots in what was the first game of his 17th NBA season.

Ingram looked spry in his return from right knee soreness that sidelined him four games, particularly on an authoritative, driving, one-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring in the opening quarter.

J.J. Redick hit 4 of 9 3-pointers and scored 14 points for New Orleans, which has won two straight and three of four. Kenrich Williams, who got the start at forward, filled the stat sheet with hustle plays, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot. He also scored eight points.

Holiday highlighted his night with a spinning dribble around Nassir Little for a driving dunk. In the second half, he scored on an unusual play in which he remained under his own basket, re-tying his shoes while his team advanced 4-on-5 into the offensive end. Holiday then came sprinting down court, took a handoff from Nicolo Melli near the 3-point line and exploded toward the rim for a layup.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. Anthony also took Portland’s second shot, hitting his first of two made 3s.

But when Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt.

Hayes closed out the half with his third block, swatting away a driving floater by Anfernee Simons to keep Portland’s lead at 54-53.

New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Melli hit a 3 and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland back court after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dove to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.

Portland responded with three quick 3s — two by Kent Bazemore — during a 9-2 run that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to six before Alexander-Walker, who had hit 11 3s in his previous two games, ended the period by banking in a straightaway 3 to make it 88-79.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!